Pasta isn’t the worst thing you could eat if you’re trying to lose weight. However, because it’s calorie-dense and contains few nutrients, especially depending on the type of pasta, it isn’t the best choice for your diet.
This doesn’t mean you must give up all pasta! There are several healthy alternatives, all of which you can feel good about eating. Below, we explore these 12 alternatives and look at why they’re better choices.
Zucchini contains just 19 calories per cup, making it a great low-calorie alternative to pasta. But that’s not all! Zucchini also contains 8 percent of your recommended daily intake of potassium per cup, and 33 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Both are great for your cardiovascular system and can improve other bodily functions.
All of the same benefits apply to yellow squash, too!
While cucumber may not be the best substitute for all pasta dishes, cucumbers are great in pasta salads. One cucumber contains approximately 50 calories. And when spiralized, sliced, or otherwise prepared, cucumbers are a refreshing foundation for many meals.
Cucumbers are about 95 percent water, but also contain potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. As such, they’re a great way to fill up and stay full for hours to come!
Carrots are another vegetable that’s easy to spiralize. With about 50 calories per cup, they’re also low in calories and high in a number of essential nutrients. In fact, just one cup of carrots contains 427 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A and 14 percent of your recommended daily intake of dietary fiber, as well as other nutrients, including calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
Beets can be used in both raw and cooked dishes and contain approximately 60 calories per cup. While low in calories, every cup of beets contain 15 percent of your recommended daily intake of dietary fiber, keeping you full, and notable amounts of vitamins C and B6, iron, and magnesium.
5. Spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash is one of the simplest pasta substitutes because, when cooked, it’s already in noodle form!
Per cup, spaghetti squash comes in at just over 30 calories. And although it only contains trace amounts of most vitamins, it contains 6 percent of your recommended daily fiber intake per cup and is a low-calorie, nutritious way to enjoy your favorite pasta dishes.
6. Butternut squash
Slightly higher in calories than spaghetti squash, butternut squash contains approximately 60 calories per cup. It’s easy to spiralize, and is incredibly high in nutrients, too!
In fact, one cup contains 297 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, 48 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, and 14 percent of your recommended daily intake of potassium.
Pumpkin isn’t just for pies and other desserts. In fact, its nutritional profile is similar to butternut squash, as it’s high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium! You can spiralize pumpkin like you would any other squash, though you might have a difficult time finding it depending on the season and where you live.
8. Sweet potato
Though higher in calories than most squashes and pasta alternatives, sweet potato is another great alternative to pasta! Per cup, sweet potato contains just over 100 calories, which includes 377 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, 16 percent of your recommended daily intake of dietary fiber, and 12 percent of your recommended daily intake of potassium.
There are several different varieties of sweet potato, too! Try Japanese or Hannah yams for a tasty alternative to traditional garnet or jewel yams.
Eggplant is a simple substitute for lasagna noodles. Per cup, eggplant contains just 20 calories while still offering 10 percent of your recommended daily intake of dietary fiber, as well as vitamins C and B6.
Slice the eggplant thinly to imitate lasagna noodles: You’ll hardly be able to tell the difference!
10. Kelp noodles
You don’t always have to spiralize a vegetable to imitate pasta for a healthy pasta alternative! Kelp noodles are made from seaweed and can be can be bought at almost any store. And, as you may suspect, the caloric content is practically negligible.
These noodles, due to their flavor, are best used in Asian-inspired recipes. However, you can prepare them with lemon juice and a little bit of salt for an incredibly simple, healthy dish, too!
11. Soba noodles
Soba noodles contain approximately 110 calories per cup and are higher in nutrients than traditional white pasta. The difference with soba noodles is that they’re made from buckwheat flour, giving them a higher protein content.
The noodles derive from Japan, making them a great alternative to other types of pasta you might use in Asian dishes.
12. Tofu or shirataki noodles
Shirataki noodles, like soba noodles, are from Japan. Unlike soba noodles, shirataki noodles are made from a combination of tofu and konjac yam. These noodles are a great pasta alternative because they’re made from a water-soluble dietary fiber and are low in digestible carbohydrates and calories.
They’re quite plain, and work well in a variety of Asian dishes.
Bonus pasta alternative: Cauliflower rice
There are many dishes that work well with either pasta or rice. But because rice can pose many of the same problems that pasta does when it comes to nutritional value and calories, you may not want to eat rice. That’s what cauliflower rice is for!
Cauliflower contains approximately 30 calories per cup and offers approximately 85 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, along with 8 percent of your recommended daily intake of dietary fiber and 9 percent of your recommended daily intake of potassium. You can “rice” cauliflower by putting it in a food processor or, if you’re inclined, grating it.
Switch up your pasta routine for vegetables and watch your body transform!
While you can eat foods you love – like pasta – once in a while, you shouldn’t eat it all the time. Luckily, with all of the delicious alternatives above, you can find a nutritious way to continue enjoying the pasta dishes you love without ruining your diet!